Nehawu demands transparency around R3.8 bn ‘missing middle’ fund

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 18, 2024


The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [Nehawu] has called on Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande to provide full transparency on the additional funding of R3.8 billion for the so-called ‘missing middle’ students.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) recently announced the fund within the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) to assist students whose parents earn more than the prescribed income to qualify for Nsfas funding but not enough to pay their fees.

Nzimande said the new Comprehensive Student Funding Model introduces measures to support a wider-ranging category of students – including those who are currently not supported by the Nsfas bursary and funding policy.

This new category is for students whose families have a total income of more than R350 000 but not more than R600 000 per annum.

Nehawu said, “In this regard, we seek clarity regarding the terms and conditions pertaining to the repayment of the loans, the rate of interest if any, etc. We therefore call on the DHET to undertake meaningful consultations on the revised loan scheme with a broader array of stakeholders, including the students and worker formations in the sector.

“As NEHAWU, we acknowledge that government has made progressive strides towards funding of higher education through various mechanisms. However, much more work needs to be done to address the challenges confronting funding of the post-school education and training.”

The union said it condemned the non-consultative approach of Nzimande in the implementation of the Comprehensive Student Funding Mode.

“The Minister moved with haste to announce the implementation of phase one of a funding model, a funding model that is by no means comprehensive, and has neglected inputs developed through formal submissions by critical stakeholders.

“We have actually made a submission to the DHET early last year regarding the proposals of the Ministerial Task-Team (MTT). The minister’s announcement was very vague in relation to the actual content of the comprehensive funding model, for example as to how this intervention on the missing middle students is articulated with the funding of the post-graduate students.”

Nehawu said full transparency in relation to the comprehensive funding model must be provided to stakeholders in the post-school education and training sector.

The Mercury